Robb’s Reading Intervention Toolkit Delivers
Reviewed by Linda Biondi
Laura Robb, author, teacher, literacy coach, speaker and expert in literacy, has done it again. Her latest book, The Reading Intervention Toolkit, is sorely needed and will guide teachers toward providing help for the kids who need it most: struggling readers.
Lots to be thankful for
Her toolkit provides a variety of interventions tailored to the time available: 2-3 minute, 5-minute, 10-15 minute, 10-15 minute, and 30-40 minute. Robb knows that teaching is not a “one size fits all” lesson or strategy, but rather a set of plans and interventions that must meet all students. I want to thank her for not forgetting what it is like to be a teacher.
Robb is a master at helping teachers become the best they can be. You can tell that her heart is in the classroom. I can picture her in the teachers’ room chatting about students and how to reach them with colleagues savoring her stories. Her book reads like a deep conversation, generously sharing proven intervention strategies from her own work.
Reaching struggling students
This book is about reaching our struggling students before they experience failure. It’s no secret that if you are unable to comprehend what you are reading, your opportunities to learn are diminished. As these obstacles become more difficult to overcome, our students begin to feel defeated and demoralized.
As a teacher I realize that it is difficult to reach all students, especially when you have a wide range of instructional reading skills to work with – and then come the class trips, special programs, days off, holiday fever – all those things that interrupt your teaching practice. Believe me, I know that it is not easy at all!
Ideal for collaboration
Each chapter in the book begins with prompt and/or questions to guide teachers into fruitful discussions. Robb invites readers to collaborate and connect, not using this book alone but in collaboration with colleagues. Each chapter ends with “Continue the Conversation,” a list of relevant prompts and questions that you can explore in a group.
Remember, professional book club conversations don’t have to be in the school. Using “Google Chat” or one of the online forums can help the busy teacher find a few minutes to exchange ideas, feelings, frustrations, and suggestions virtually. During the summer, they provide a virtual avenue to stay engaged.
Inside the book
Chapters 1 and 2: discuss responsive teaching and differentiation.
Chapter 3: offers intervention tools and strategies for teachers and students.
Chapters 4 and 5: discuss key reading strategies with texts to use with each.
Chapter 6: examines the importance of getting student to write about their reading.
Chapter 7: concludes the book with key reminders, big ideas about reading intervention, and instructional practices that will reach struggling readers.
The book includes a digital resource CD with student and teacher resources, templates, student reference pages, and engaging texts with a variety of reading levels (easy to use with projector).
Each lesson begins with an overview and continues with material, procedures, scaffolding suggestions, and a classroom snapshot. The “Teacher TIP” that accompanies each chapter is irreplaceable. Robb also gives the reader a quick insight into possible problems and how to address them.
Reflection for new and veteran teachers
I am a strong believer in reflecting on your teaching practice when you read professional books. Don’t just read them for the ideas you can use, but read with the intent to think about how you can be a better teacher.
As I read this book, I reflected on my own teaching and whether this book would meet the needs of my students. After reading a few pages, I was sold. Robb’s book is not a repertoire of sugarcoated lessons that look great on paper but may fail in the classroom. Rather it provides differentiated practices with increasing levels of intensity. Her book is the perfect model to use for showing Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.
Research based interventions
What Robb does skillfully is to empower teachers to apply supportive suggestions that can easily be adapted to any instructional setting, ensuring that the students are getting the timely interventions they need.
This Toolkit provides educators with suggestions for a variety of strategies that have a strong research base for specific areas of student need. Planning guides and sample schedules help you on the way.
I have taught 40 years, and books like this make me want to teach forty more. With the turn of every page, I learned more about teaching and reaching my students. If you are looking for a professional book club resource, this is it! If you want to stay current on research-based best practices, this book is for you! If you are a new teacher, pre-service educator, or veteran teacher, this book is for you! If you have students who need your help, this book is for them!
Linda Biondi is a fourth grade teacher at Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, NJ, and a long-time Morning Meeting practitioner. She’s also the recipient of several educational grants, a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project and a participant on the NJ Department of Education Teacher Advisory Panel. Linda participates in ECET2 Celebrate Teaching which has posted an interview with her.